The new British romantic comedy “Rye Lane” is a breath of fresh air in a sea of the usual dime-a-dozen direct-to-streaming releases in the genre.
A Sundance festival hit that was acquired for a Hulu release, the film is the debut feature from Raine Allen-Miller and screenwriters Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia.
It follows Dom (David Jonsson) and Yas (Vivian Oparah), two young people in South London who connect after they’ve each gone through a breakup.
Set mostly over the course of a day, the pair walk through town discussing things like relationships, jobs and aspirations, ultimately finding themselves in a series of humorous situations, from awkward dinner dates with exes to stealing back possessions from old partners.
A charismatic Jonsson and Oparah are at the heart of the film, which would not work as well without the chemistry of its two leads, who perfectly match its energetic screenplay.
Elsewhere in the cast are other eccentric, animated characters, from Dom’s friend Nathan (Simon Manyonda), who hosts bizarre art galleries filled with close-up images and videos of mouths and butts, to his former best friend Eric (Benjamin Sarpong-Broni), now his ex-girlfriend Gia’s (Karene Peter) new boyfriend.
Despite what could have been a minimalist approach to its conversational narrative, the film boasts plenty of style via a vibrant and colorful visual palette.
As for the music, it’s a fun mishmash that pairs a score by producer Kwes with a soundtrack compiling a variety of grime, classic hip-hop, reggae, R&B and other cuts (A Tribe Called Quest plays a pivotal role for the characters, for one, while Sampha makes several musical appearances).
A nice little surprise in an era where small, quality romantic comedies seem few and far in between, “Rye Lane” is proof of its creative team, from the director and writers to the two leads, who are fresh talents for pulling off quirky, funny stories with an eye on style.
Searchlight Pictures’ “Rye Lane” releases on Hulu on Friday, March 31.
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